Photo Information

Sergeant Maj. Jennifer L. Simmons, the sergeant major of Wounded Warrior Battalion West, speaks at a women’s leadership symposium aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 30, 2015. The symposium gave junior Marines a chance to speak to prominent military leaders to discuss gender equality and other topics.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Murray

Women’s Leadership Symposium discusses gender equality in the Corps

1 Apr 2015 | Cpl. Joshua Murray I Marine Expeditionary Force

Prominent male and female leaders came together at the Pacific Views Event Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, to discuss key topics and gender equality at a women’s leadership symposium March 30, 2015.

The goal of the symposium was to give junior Marines a chance to ask questions and discuss key issues with prominent female leaders such as Sgt. Maj. Jennifer L. Simmons, the Wounded Warrior Battalion West Sergeant Major.

Simmons, who acted as the honorary guest speaker, spoke about different female Marines who paved the way for all of the female Marines who came after them.

“Since Private Opha Mae Johnson joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1918, there have been steady strides towards gender equality in all aspects of the Marine Corps,” Simmons said. “As women, we have come far, but we still have a ways to go.”

Throughout the years, the Marine Corps has opened many different job fields to Woman Marines in an effort to increase gender equality in the Marine Corps. In 1975, the term Woman Marine was discontinued, and women were allowed in every occupation or billet except infantry, artillery, and pilot-aircrew, because of general service restrictions.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Diane Sharp, aviation supply chief with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, spoke about the importance of every Marine’s role in improving gender equality within the Marine Corps regardless of their gender.

“We all play a part in the story of women in the military,” said Sharp, who was a panel member at the symposium. “We must all come together to make our story one of significance and importance for all of the Marines who will come after us.”

The symposium’s panel members discussed the importance of female integration into new military occupational specialties and answered questions from the junior Marines in the audience.

The symposium offered the younger generation an abundance of guidance and knowledge about the struggles women overcame and how female service members are essential in the U.S. military.

“Every single person in the Marine Corps is important and impacts the mission of the Corps,” said Simmons. “We need to move away from the thought that women in the Marine Corps are only placeholders meant for trivial tasks. Every single Marine holds an essential part in accomplishing the different overall missions of the Marine Corps.”